Dog confidence building?

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by ACooper, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. ACooper

    ACooper Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Messages:
    27,771
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    IN
    IMO Orson has some confidence issues.

    At about 5 months of age I was dumb enough to take him to a dog park where an aggressive intact GSD attempted to attack him. I say attempted because there was no blood shed, but otherwise I guess it was an attack.

    And then a few months later on our walk, we were accosted by a loose little poodle that wanted his blood and nearly got some.

    There have been a few other incidents here and there, and I really believe it has affected his confidence with other dogs very negatively. I know that some of it is instinctual and in his breed............but I really do believe a large part of it is lack of confidence.

    So anyway, I started this thread to hear about confidence building things I can do for him. Hopefully ones that DON'T use other dogs to start out with :)
     
  2. mrose_s

    mrose_s BusterLove

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Messages:
    12,169
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2 dogs, 2 rats
    Location:
    QLD, Australia
    I'd be interested in that to, I have been working on getting Buster's confidence up, particularily when outside the yard. Today was a mile stone, we walked for a full hour entirely with a loose leash. I've found just showing him its okay to slow down and that I can help him sort out sitautions that come up when we're out has built his confidence. o the point where we can sometimes walk past small, barking, loose dogs and as long as they don't approach him, he doesn't over react, thats massive for him.

    *sits and waits for more posts*
     
  3. ACooper

    ACooper Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Messages:
    27,771
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    IN
    No responses for us mroses? Hmmmf! LOL

    Well I guess I will have to search the forum and google *sigh*
     
  4. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2007
    Messages:
    13,667
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Dog Trainer CPDT-KA
    Location:
    Fredericksburg
    I'd like some confidence boosting tips as well... I think i'm joining up on this bandwagon ;)

    But really though... Bamm could use some confidence boosting
     
  5. ACooper

    ACooper Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Messages:
    27,771
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    IN
    We are going to have to rally the troops and make people come over here and POST! LOL

    Dekka, Mafia, Dr2little, Adjorts...........and all of you dog pros, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! GET IN HERE AND POST :D
     
  6. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Messages:
    8,233
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    4 dogs
    Location:
    here
    I've been thinking about this all day and while I am able to instill confidence in my dogs, I'm not sure I can put it into writing.

    Dogs get confidence from the owner. Being calm, focused, committed, consistent, fair all are a part of it.

    Trainingwise, set the dog up to succeed. Use huge rewards. Train things that require thinking and problem solving.

    Coop, with Orson, he's had some negative experiences with dogs He needs to create positive associations.

    Hope that helps a little. Hope someone comes along who can explain things better.
     
  7. darkchild16

    darkchild16 We are Home.

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    21,880
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    3
    Location:
    Tallahassee Florida
  8. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    6,403
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Two dogs, three cats
    Location:
    Central Texas
    Sorry! SOme of us don't get off work until 5!

    Anyway, I agree with what corgipower said, a lot of confidence comes from the owner. If you think another dog might cause a reaction in your dog, and you get nervous, your dog is going to get nervous too, and then you've started a spiral. You have to be very in-charge of your emotions - don't let your body tense up, don't let your pulse start racing. Take some deep breaths and give a really genuine smile (smiling automatically makes our bodies feel happier, it's like classical conditioning).

    Clicker training goes a long way in building dogs' confidence, too, because the essence of clicker-training a new behavior is that dogs can't do it wrong. If I'm shaping a new behavior and I get something different than what I wanted, it's because I did some bad clicks, not because my dog did something wrong. Playing "101 things to do with a box" or just teaching cute tricks is a great way to build a dog's overall confidence.

    With dogs, too, you can build confidence just by clicking when your dog looks at another dog. Teach him that other dogs get him good things. Once he's comfortable being around other dogs, you can click/treat when other dogs sniff him, or when other dogs approach him, etc.
     
  9. mrose_s

    mrose_s BusterLove

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Messages:
    12,169
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2 dogs, 2 rats
    Location:
    QLD, Australia
    I was readin through a lot of these articles yesterday

    http://www.clickersolutions.com/articles/index.htm

    There is some relaly good stuff there.

    Actually, the clicker really has helped Buster. Especially with his loose leash walking. Instead of waiting till he pulled than saying "no, wrong, try something else" I was able to set him up with "yep, thats right, and thats right, and thats RIGHT!!!"
    he caught on a lot faster and tried a lot harder.
     
  10. dr2little

    dr2little Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Messages:
    7,402
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    5 dogs
    Home Page:
    I'm sorry, I saw this earlier but am home feeling lousy and just couldn't put two words together..

    I agree, confidence comes from the owner in many ways. I find that the best way to improve confidence is to provide your dogs with a predictable life and a lot of direction. Of course it matters a great deal how you carry yourself out in the world when you're with your dogs but also in what you do with them when you're out.

    I always give my dogs things to do on a walk instead of allowing the outside world to be the only focus. We play all sorts of games on the walk. I may give a command every 'X' number of yards, change the pace (run/skip/slow walk/fast walk/sideways jumps), asking that my dog participate and making it all fun and rewarding.

    Time for sniffing is given, sometimes in abundance depending on the surroundings, but a good part of the walk is 'we time' rather than just the dogs time.....but again, I keep it fun and exciting, not forceful and demanding.

    I'd also pair things that Orson, Buster and Bamm love with the sight of things that normally causes them anxiety. I never leave home without my 'just in case' Ace in my pocket. Of course these things (toy, treat, game) are only brought out at the sight of the trigger and are used at a threshold (before any reaction).

    I'm in a stuper but I'll come back with more later....:)
     
  11. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    14,854
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    1
    Location:
    Twin Citay!
    I agree with a lot of confidence coming from the owner, this is what I'm working on now with Izzy, with my trainer's help. Izzy needs to know that I am in charge of the space around, it is my job to control and defend that area, not Izzy's. She needs to know that I will keep her safe and she can just enjoy the walk. It's hard, but I can definitely see an improvement.

    Also, for general confidence building, tracking seems to work the best in my opinion. No corrections, it's all positive and if done right they always succeed, and you can do it on your own instead of having to find a class. Next Spring I'm definitely going to jump back into it with Frodo just for the confidence aspect.
     
  12. Brattina88

    Brattina88 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2004
    Messages:
    12,953
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    OH
    Click to Calm is a great book. Its titled 'healing the aggressive dog', but I found so many helpful things in it - something that just about any dog would benefit from it! I'm trying to find it, but its lost somewhere in one of my rooms *cries* :p

    Something that has worked for me in the past, is to encourage dogs to do things they wouldn't normally. For example, walking on a cement parking space bar, standing on a decent sized boulder, etc etc - and rewarding/praising like crazy! Keeping it fun, like a game. Me and Maddie enjoyed this - I liked looking for things for Maddie to accomplish, and she enjoys learning new things. I'm actually helping Kayla do this with Tucker, since he's acting a little bit skittish
     
  13. ACooper

    ACooper Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Messages:
    27,771
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    IN
    Thanks so far guys! I keep meaning to pick up a copy of that book Click to Calm........but I never REMEMBER it at the right time!

    I am going to amazon RIGHT NOW :D
     
  14. mrose_s

    mrose_s BusterLove

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Messages:
    12,169
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2 dogs, 2 rats
    Location:
    QLD, Australia
    Its a bit too hot by now to take him out for a full walk (and I'm lazy so meh) so I just decided to take him down to the empty block on the corner and do some training.

    He was brilliant, he actually even walnted to play with a stick for a short while (he NEVER wants to play out on walks) I went to throw it for him and promptly hit him in the face. I'm an awful mum...
    He still wanted to play for a bit after that so we did some recalls and some heeling and stuff and he was a total gentleman, even "focussed" on me while cars where driving past... woo.

    Then a little dog decided to come down and bark at us through its fence, I've seen it before when its loose and it makes a lot of noise but doesn't approach us so I figured we'd use it seeing as he was being so good.

    Well he just about acted like a normal dog... We got about 15m back from it and just did some loose leash walking, some heeliing and some "focus"ing. Then a few small recalls (like 2 metres)
    The fact I could get him to even look at me was amazing let alone listening to me.

    *happy dance*
    he was even enjoying himself the entire time... he never enjoys himself outside the yard let alone in front of dogs.

    /end shameless brag

    I just love him.
     
  15. mrose_s

    mrose_s BusterLove

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Messages:
    12,169
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2 dogs, 2 rats
    Location:
    QLD, Australia
    i Need a copy of that book aswell, for the longest time I couldn't find it in Australia but I know its here now... I just have to get off my bum and order it. WIll do today... i've been looking for something to spend my money on
     
  16. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,854
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Environmental Science
    Location:
    Vermont
    This was a big lightbulb moment for me as well. When I started in dog stuff (before I had Meg), the school I went to was very much the "let them work it out on their own" school of thought. I tried it with Meg for a while, and she just got worse and worse. Dogs approach her, she gets worried and on the defensive, other dogs get offended, and then occasionally attack.

    Now, whenever I have her in a setting that tends to cause issues for her (always on-leash or in tight spaces), I make sure to remember that it is my job to keep her comfortable. We no longer go in pet stores together, unless I've gone in ahead of time and scoped out that there are no dogs, and that the aisles have plenty of space so you don't get surprised. I do the same thing in vets offices or anywhere else that she has to be leashed. It's amazing how much less she worries about other dogs when she is leashed now. Off-leash, her issues have always been much less severe. I still won't hang around standing still with dogs we don't know (she will never be a dog-park dog), but we can pass other dogs while out hiking with no problems. She has a great time hanging around with dogs we both know and are comfortable with.

    As for general confidence, it is one of the things I am most proud of with Meg. She is a worrier at heart, and came to me having been very under-exposed to life in general (having lived tied out). Back then, if something worried her (stairs, walking across the wooden footbridges on our favorite hiking trails, etc), she was done. She couldn't even stand to be around what was bothering her. She would slink away, shut down, and completely stop responding.

    I was so, so lucky to get in to the agility school I did. The instructor is very willing to take every dog as an individual and take the time it needs to make them comfortable. I've also gotten great advice from her on non-agility related issues.

    Early on, I had to be careful that Meg was never wrong more than one time. It wasn't enough that I didn't punish any mistakes; simply the absence of a reward and a "try again" was enough to make her quit playing. If I asked for a behavior and didn't get it, we did several reps of something really, really easy and would reward that. Her tolerance has increased and now I can simply not reward and go back to the behavior (although I still don't use any sort of no-reward marker with her).

    I played a lot with her in very comfortable settings (like our living room floor). She used to hate playing with me in front of other dogs at all, so I would get down on the floor with her at home when she was feeling frisky, toss a toy, gently push her away, play growl at her, etc. Of course, this is a dog who is very soft and low in confidence, so I can get away with those things.

    I spent nearly a year (really) teaching her to play tug with me. She is finally at the point where she will play right in the middle of our agility class with other dogs watching. She really gets into it now, with lots of growls and head-shakes:D. I almost always let her win - breaking the rules of tug, of course, but it is a big confidence booster for her. I also NEVER correct her for anything in tugging. I know you are supposed to end the game if they bump you with their teeth, but my feeling is that I entered in to this game with her, I want to encourage the drive and confidence, and I'm not going to tell her she's wrong for giving me what I want. If I ever have issues with her, maybe I'll revisit our Revised Rules for Tugging, but in the meantime, I love what it does for her.

    If she's having one of her weird, shut-down, worried periods (few and far between nowadays), I look for any sign of comfort or confidence and reward that. Her little stub of a tail is very easy to read; it stays tucked tight when she is worried, and even a slight lifting is obvious. Her head coming up, rather than low and slinking, is another good sign.

    I realize I break many of the rules designed to keep dogs "in their place" in the dominance hierarchy, and that the way I do things with Meg might cause issues in other dogs. But as I said, I know Meg enough to trust that I'm not causing problems in her. She is never going to be overly confident, pushy, or domineering with people. I certainly wouldn't suggest some of our games (like laying on the floor with the tug toy held near your mouth and growling as your dog pulls on the other end;)) for most dogs. Just sharing what works for us.
     
  17. v-girl

    v-girl New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2008
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I agree with what everyone has said and I will add one more thing that I read somewhere. When you encounter an dominant/aggressive dog that your dog is expecting you to protect him from an attack or one in the making. Being that you are the alpha.

    My dog is just the opposite and is aggressive with other dogs, and at one point of our walk there is another dog that if she is out will run towards us aggressively, which of course sets off my dog. So obviously he is not looking for me to protect him, but I am very aware of his aggression and if this other dog is out, I turn around, before he has time to react. As with any dogs I encounter in order to protect my dog and the other. I watch for signs and signals from my dog to know when he is under alert and then act accordingly.

    So I don't know exactly what you would do in your situation with your dog, but I'm just giving an example of what is working for me with my dog.
     
  18. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Messages:
    8,233
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    4 dogs
    Location:
    here
    With Nyx and her DR, she sees another dog and the first thing she does is step out to the end of the leash. Then she starts her reacting.

    One day, she spotted a dog and focused on him, and she stepped towards the end of the leash. I extended my arm to put slack back in the leash. I saw her hesitate and I just smiled - she was still focused on the other dog. She took another step towards the end of the leash and I again reached forward to keep slack. At that point, she stopped and I could see the wheels spinning. She calmly turned to look at me and I praised the sh!t out of her and we walked away, me praising and playing with her.

    Basically that tight leash allows her to be focused on the other dog while still maintaining some awareness of me. By not allowing tightness in the leash, she had to break off the focus on the other dog and look at me in order to have awareness of me.

    Neat!! I don't think there's any one activity that builds confidence. The more you do with the dog the more it helps -- tracking, obedience, agility, frisbee, etc.
     

Share This Page